Steve McCabe, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, is continuing his fight for fairer access to IVF treatment by introducing a 10 minute Rule Bill. He is planning to introduce legislation to guarantee fair access to IVF across England and to equalise the cost of the procedures across the NHS.
At present, IVF eligibility criteria varies depending on which Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) a couple comes under, meaning that a couple can be eligible if they live in one part of the country but can lose their entitlement if they move home. Steve first raised access issues after hearing from a number of his constituents who have been denied access to NHS funded IVF treatment due to criteria set by their CCG which isn’t applicable elsewhere. Although NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) has set out clear guidelines relating to IVF eligibility, the Government doesn’t require CCGs to follow them. Steve has been campaigning about the injustice this creates and wants the Government to take steps to equalize access across the country.
Last year he secured a Parliamentary debate on the issue and seemed to be making some progress with Health Minister Nicola Blackwood but she lost her seat at the 2017 election and since then, there have been two further health ministers and things appear to be moving backwards. He is working with colleagues from across the political spectrum, as well as campaign groups, to build cross party support for legislation covering; a statutory recognition of infertility as a medical condition (as recognised by the World Health Organisation), proper training for all CCG decision makers on fertility issues; and, equal access to services, based on NICE guidelines, across England.
The Bill will be introduced in the House of Commons on Wednesday 18 April, it seeks to eliminate regional variations in IVF provision, including arbitrary access and exclusion criteria and will ensure that all CCGs routinely commission fertility treatment in line with NICE guidelines. It will also call for the development of a national benchmark price in England for tertiary fertility services to end the wide price disparity which can see huge variations in costs, across the country, for the same NHS procedure.
Steve McCabe MP said:
“One in six couples have an issue with infertility in the UK. This is about real people and the devastating impact infertility can have on their lives.
“At the moment the guidance issued by NICE is not being followed and access has become a postcode lottery. Across England access to treatment and its costs can vary dramatically from one town to another. What kind of way is this to run a national health service? This is a question about fairness.
“I’ve been campaigning on this for some time now and believe that there is cross party support for changes in the law. It’s just the beginning but I hope my 10 Minute Rule Bill will get people’s attention, especially the bureaucrats running the NHS, and kick-start the necessary changes.”